Saturday, November 28, 2020

Some Finishes and a Rainbow Flimsy

Winter has definitely arrived here in the Salt Lake Valley. It’s been cold and we’ve had rain. About three days ago we even woke up to a dusting of snow. I say Bring it On! Let’s get plenty of snow over the next 2-3 months; good for the water supply, good for tourism, good for the winter holiday spirit. And then come March 1, it can just go away! ... um ... Do you think Mother Nature is listening? I’m not holding my breath. 

So this past week, the stars aligned to allow me to get several projects finished. I love when that happens! The first finish was this four-patch posy quilt for Quilts for Kids. I tell you, it was pure bliss working on this project. I love the fabric and colors. It’s just so cheery!



In the 20 main 4-patch blocks, I quilted a swirly flower. It’s one of my go-to designs. You can see it better from the back.  I also did a vine along the outer floral border and a loopy design in the sashing. 

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After laundering, the quilt measured 50x60”. 

Last Sunday, Cousin Kim and I basted this large quilt, which I’m calling Bear Tracks because of the masculine Dan Morris prints of deer, bears and owls. Anyway, this will go to my daughter-in-law’s father, Bill. It’s the third of four Christmas quilts I want to get done before Christmas. 

Bear Tracks measures 78x88” and was straight-line quilted at four-inch intervals. The outer blue narrow border was given a curled hook pattern. Simple, but echoed some of the same motifs in the fabric. Here’s the backing.  You can click on these pictures to enlarge them and see the beautiful fabric.


And then I remembered that before I could mail off my brother Steve's Christmas quilt (the panel quilt of the snowy truck), I had to finish the zip pouch I was planning for him. This was the last of the fat quarter of marijuana-themed fabric that I’d ordered earlier in the year. Previously I’d made Steve a mask out of the fabric, plus I cut two zipper blocks (one for Kim, one for me) out of it. And now, the pouch. Seriously, I think I eked out every last leaf out of that print!  The pouch is 7x10”, quilted with a small stipple and sports a green zipper. Green is Steve’s favorite color.


And speaking of Cousin Kim and the zipper blocks, let me show you HER zipper quilt finish. Mine will be pretty much the same (at least 80% of our blocks are the same) once I get it sewn together. Isn’t it awesome? It looks like it’s just glowing!! Kim is giving it to her son Nick for Christmas. 
 

So, those are the finishes. Next, I played with strings and made another couple dozen multi-colored string blocks. But you don’t need to see a picture of those, because after you’ve seen a few dozen (like last week), you’ve seen them all. I’ll just keep working on them until my string bin looks depleted. Hahaha - as if.

I also took a few moments - and it was literally just a few moments - to sew together this Scraptastic Star flimsy.  With the 12 sixteen-inch blocks, it measures 48x60” and will be a great quilt for Quilts for Kids. I made these blocks all year as one of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects. It’s high time I begin sewing some of the blocks together into tops, eh? 


My plan is to get Scraptastic Stars, along with the gray and orange scrappy column quilt (seen in progress  here) basted and quilted. I just realized that I’ve never shown that finished gray and orange top. Well, no matter. Hopefully I’ll have the finished quilt for you next week.

I received a surprise package from Sally this week. How sweet of her (I bet she hates me saying that) to gift me with a yard of this delightful Gumby and Pokey fabric. I was so excited that I wasted no time in pulling some potential matching strips from the QFK scraps for it. I’ll probably do something quick and easy with it like the third quilt on this page


And then not to be outdone, Molly Kitten (Sally’s supervisor), sent three bright and happy cat fabrics to Darla. I have no idea what those two felines are cooking up, but you can bet you’ll hear about it here.


Finally, I’m about to start the fourth of the four Christmas quilts to sew this year. This final one is for my son, Ryan.  I saw this line of fabrics at Connecting Threads and it just hit me how perfect it was. I bought a 10” square pack and lots of yardage. That’s not something that I often do, but it was during the time I was reading a draft of Ryan’s book manuscript, and the colors and prints just leaped out at me and said “Arahorn!”. Maybe someday I’ll explain that more. Anyway, the fabric must’ve been popular because it was GONE within a week or two. Now all the decisions have been made and the pieces are cut. Let the sewing begin!!



We had a wonderful, quiet Thanksgiving here at home this year. Except for last year, that’s what we usually have done over the last 10-12 years anyway. We  did talk or text with most of the family during the day. Then for a mid-afternoon dinner I made a wonderful turkey and dressing casserole, using Melody’s recipe, here. I didn’t get a picture, but if you check out the link, you can see it. Seriously, if you’re wondering what to do with your leftovers, or would rather just cook an easy turkey dinner next time, I heartily recommend this “turkey lasagna” without reservation. We added a bit of mild Italian sausage (and celery and onions) to the cornbread stuffing mix. It made enough for three dinners and a lunch. Anyway, we also had green beans from the garden and pumpkin pie for dessert. A simple, perfect day. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Waiting on the World to Change

Just think about how wonderful it would be if Covid were behind us. With everyone vaccinated and healthy, we wouldn’t need to be afraid for our lives when going out to just get groceries! How lovely to have family coming over to celebrate Thanksgiving, spending time together, hugging, and giving thanks for all our blessings. To be able to anticipate shopping and selecting gifts for our loved ones for Christmas. To have a new President-Elect (and the American people) being treated graciously by the outgoing officeholder instead of the shameful display of petulance and histrionics we’re being subjected to. To have a peaceful Holiday Season with appropriate weather patterns and behavior patterns. 

Well, maybe we can have most of that next year, but it ain’t happening in 2020! So while we’re all waiting on the world to change, let’s talk about quilting. It’s what most of us are here for...

This week I did manage to baste two quilts - the ones I had completed backings for. The basting was made easier by the fact that I finally went and got another cortisone shot in my right shoulder. After a few days (and a lot of walking during Bruce’s doctor appointment times), I feel about five years younger! 

Creature From the Foggy Lagoon (name courtesy of Louise) has been quilted, bound and labeled as a donation quilt for Quilts for Kids. 


This quilt finished at 47x54” before laundering. Speaking of laundering, there was an apparent clog in our drain pipe, and we had a minor flood from the overflow drain to the floor of the laundry room. Luckily, the floor is tiled and we have a working drain in the floor, which was something we installed about 15 years ago when a similar problem happened with our old washing machine. Our home is about 60 years old and building codes have evolved! Anyway, everything worked as it should have, so all we had to do was unclog the drain pipes. That was accomplished with our heavy-duty go-to chemical plumber (hate to have to use it, but needs must...). I was back in the laundry business in a couple hours.

The other quilt I basted and am in the process of quilting is the Four-Patch Posy quilt, also for QFK.


I’ll show more of it next week when it’s finished. The sashings were quilted with a little loops to mimic the flight paths of the fireflies depicted in the orange fabric. In the main squares I’m quilting a big, blowsy scallop-petaled flower. I’ve finished 12 of the 20 I need to do, so it should be completed today.

There was no progress on the big blue and brown rail fence quilt because I still need to finish the backing. I’ll do that this afternoon, then Cousin Kim and I can baste it tomorrow. For most of the rest of the week, I got sidetracked - and I mean SIDETRACKED - by a stringy squirrel.

Fifty-six multi-colored string blocks demanded to be sewn! I used foundation paper this time instead of the sheer stuff I often use as a base, and spent a couple pleasant Happy Hours pulling papers and sipping Kahlua and (light) Eggnog. Ahhh..... the Holidays!


My large beach tote bag of multi-colored strings showed barely a dent after these were sewn, so I see many more of these quilts in my future. I also wonder if these might be a little busy (or nausea-inducing?) (or epileptic seizure-inducing?) I guess we’ll just have to trust the people who distribute these quilts to give the quilts to the appropriate kid. 

Then I remembered all the single-colored string blocks I’ve worked on all year for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, and decided to play a little to see how they would look mixed in. Keep in mind that these are just slapped up on the design board, not sewn.



Bruce and I really like it with the red. I first tried using 10 of the blocks to form a smaller rectangle, which would be the ring just inside of where it is pictured. But it looked really dumb and wimpy. So the 18-block rectangle it what I would do.


What about yellow? Meh.... maybe not.


The greens, however, would look nice. But I don’t have enough at the current time because I used many of them in the Creature From the Mossy Mountain. So, I’ll be doing more solid color string blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge in 2021.



And finally, another option to calm the craziness a bit would be to intersperse some solid blocks here and there to create some places for the eyes to rest.


Laundry and chores are all caught up, and we’re well-stocked with food for our solitary Thanksgiving. So  I’m off to sew all day today. And tomorrow, too, with Cousin Kim. We’ve decided that this year we’ll allow Christmas music before Thanksgiving while we sew. Because why not?

PS - yes, I do love to sew with strings!!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Scraps: To Mars and Back!

Yep, last week it was to the moon and back with scraps, but this week it’s to Mars and back. Two more bags of scraps were delivered to me from another Quilts for Kids board member. These scraps, all things that have been donated to QFK, include several quilt kits, more blocks of all kinds and copious leftovers and chunks from others’ projects. To say I have enough to keep me busy for a few months is an understatement. I’ll probably be sewing my way out from under it all for a couple years or more.  But what fun it’s going to be! All the resulting quilts will be donated to Quilts for Kids, of course.


Last weekend when Cousin Kim came over to sew on Sunday, we basted her zipper quilt. It’s going to be a Christmas present for her adult son, Nick. So it was a priority this week for me to quilt it. I just used a serpentine stitch with my walking foot and quilted all the sea lines between the blocks. 

I love the zippers so much! Now I can’t wait to get mine sewn. Kim and I used a lot of the same scraps, so probably about 80-90% of our quilts have the same blocks, though often with different solid accents. My zipper blocks are waiting, drumming their little zipper fingers, to be sewn together. Next year, babies!

Later in the week I finished sewing the gray and red strip blocks together and added a red border. Apparently the red Kona fabric bolt that I bought this time is a slightly different shade of red than the previous one. You can see that the border is a bit darker. But it’s OK I think.


Now here’s a strange shot of the backing, just pieced together. It’s not trimmed or pressed yet, but you can see that I incorporated those five red triangle blocks into it. 


Here’s a closer picture. The next step will be to press everything well and get the whole thing basted.


I also worked to finish this flimsy. All 56 rail blocks are now sewn together and a blue stop border has been added. I was going to add another wide print border, but I think this is plenty large as is. It currently measures about 73x83”. Adding the 4” border I planned would’ve made it 81x91”, and I don’t want to wrestle with that bulk under my DSM’s little throat space. 


So this one is ready to be basted now too. I’m going to have to have a quilt-sandwiching marathon this week, as I have three of them to do (the third one being that orange, yellow and blue 4-patch posy quilt top). 

Did I say three? Make that 4, because the flimsy below is almost done, too. Two more columns and a couple vertical strips, and this one will be ready to go! This is what I worked on with my gray scraps this week. I’m linking up with Scrappy Saturday, as many of us are trying to put our dark neutral scraps to good use.  


The two remaining columns will be a nine-patch on the right side (with an orange center piece) and a 6” zipper block (with orange added) on the left. The finished width will be 48” and the finished length will be 56”. Some of the rows will finish at 54” in length, but I’ll add a 2” coping strip at the bottom to even it up. And that means that maybe next week I can begin tackling some black scraps. I have a couple ideas swirling around!

Bruce finished up his “quick and dirty” strumming arm this week! It’s so good to hear him strumming the banjo and guitar again! His prosthetist, who built his regular prosthetic arm and the end portion of this device, is building a more formal arm to replace the black and gray tubing. But that process takes awhile, so Bruce rigged this up for the interim. 


We’ve had rain and snow this week and are enjoying evenings with the fireplace on. And the kitties are enjoying it too. Here is Darla in her bed. 


We have a heated bed for Alfie, too, but he won’t go in it. Such a cat! He prefers Bruce’s lap.

And that’s about it from Chez Kizerian for this week. I can’t believe how the time is flying by all of a sudden. Now that the election is in the history books, we look forward to Thanksgiving. But “looking forward” is not really the correct expression, because we, like many others, will be spending it by ourselves. Covid is raging, and we'll be staying home and staying safe. The hospitals here are at capacity, and that seems to be the story across the country and in Europe. Have a wonderful week! 



Saturday, November 7, 2020

Scraps: To the Moon and Back!

How does a sixty-something woman have fun during a pandemic? If she’s a quilter, she would play with fabric. And that’s just what I’ve been doing - playing with fabric of the scrappy variety.  It started last Saturday with me asking our Quilts for Kids leader, Sandy, if she had any orphan blocks or some scraps that I could take off her hands. When she stopped laughing, she said they were drowning in scraps because no one wanted to work with them. So, I volunteered. On Sunday she texted me asking what time after 3:00 on Monday could I swing by to pick some up. My reply: 3:01. 

Long story short, Sandy kept bringing out scraps, and we took two boxes of scraps and a large bag of blocks out to my car. She said there was twice that much left (something to look forward to)! I didn’t get a picture before I began digging in because I totally forgot. 

The first thing I did was to pull gray strings out and add them to my own pile of gray strings. I’ll personally be working on my dark neutrals (gray, black and brown) for the remainder of the year for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Last Sunday I started a gray-with-red-accents string quilt to use up my gray strings. 


With the addition of the new strings, I was able to piece 56 blocks at 6.5”. When sewn together, the inner portion of the quilt will measure 42x48”. From there I’ll add a 1-inch red stop border and then find some gray either in my wider gray scrap strips or yardage to make an outer border. It should finish in the neighborhood of 50x56”. My goal is to finish that in the coming week, as well as to get the top sewn on the third Christmas quilt (the blue and brown rail fence blocks). It’s a tall order, but there are no doctor appointments scheduled for next week and the weather is supposed to turn cold and rainy. Sounds good to me!

These five experimental triangle blocks were actually the first ones I sewed, but they didn’t do it for me. And the angles didn’t work with the string blocks, so they’ll end up on the back side of the quilt instead. Once I decided to “kick them off the island”,  I instead added a few random additional red strings and corners in the string blocks to give a little unexpected color here and there (see above photo).  

At our next QFK workshop sometime in the first quarter of 2021, we’ll be doing zipper blocks. Again, I volunteered to teach the block and kit up the parts. Here is a pile of those pinned kits so far.


The pile of strips on the chair are zipper blocks still to be cut and kitted. The box of scraps (only one now instead of two) is what’s left after I’ve pulled all the fabric chunks, solids to be cut into squares or 2.5” strips, and scraps I added to my stash (for my RSC block-making, which get made into quilts for Quilts for Kids). 




Above and below: color chunks that may have been intended for a project. Whether intended or not, they should make up into nice little quilts with a little help from my stash.



Large HST’s in navy and red for a potential quilt

Civil War blocks and scraps. There are more than enough blocks here to assemble a quilt. I did finish off the four in the upper right. Will need to get some appropriate sashing for these as the bulk of them were made in groups of four, and that’s how I’ll set them.

Solid strips (less than 2.5”) and chunks to cut into 2” squares for zipper blocks. My Go Baby cutter will help with this.


Nineteen finished 12” blocks from an apparent Fig Tree (Joanna Figueroa) quilt-along. The 20th block, below, needed some serious disassembly, but I’ve got the scraps to re-piece and fix it. It will complete enough for a good-sized quilt. I gave the remaining scraps and block bits to Cousin Kim, including at least three fat quarters.


There’s plenty more, but I don’t need to show more to give you an idea of the scope and depth of these scraps and their potential projects. And then there are my three drawers of dark neutrals that I’ll continue to tackle.

The gray drawer of scraps, below, is what’s left after the gray strings were used for the string quilt, above.


I have plenty of black scraps to wade through as well...


And let’s not forget the browns....


So, yeah, I’ll be busy planning and cutting and sewing. And my trusty companion, Darla, will be there to oversee all the goings-on.


She loves to lay in my lap while we watch Kitten Academy on weekday mornings. The squeaky kittens intrigue her, but we’re both glad they’re just on the screen and not underfoot paw.


(Updated) And we are dancing with joy that Joe Biden has been elected the 46th President of the United States. And Kamala Harris as VP - OMG, it’s so exciting!! Unfortunately, Donald Trump, true to his (lack of) character, will make the transfer of power as ugly and divisive as the last four years have been. Hopefully, we’ll hear less and less of him as the months go on. One can always hope. 



Saturday, October 31, 2020

October Roundup

All in all, October has been a very good month. Out in the big wide world, Covid is still raging wildly. But here at home, things are great, if quiet. It was a pleasant fall week, with crisp blue skies by day and chilly temperatures in the evenings. We had our first hard frost, and things are looking brown and crispy. The fall colors aren’t intense this year, as happens when there is a lack of rain throughout the year. We’ve got our fingers crossed that the Farmer’s Almanac will be correct in its prediction of a wetter-than-usual winter for us. We need the moisture. But not in our lungs, thank you very much, just on the ground. We’re planning our last foray out in the yard today to put the patio cushions, decorations and furniture away. We’ve got a lot of leaves in the breezeway and patio, but no sense sweeping them now because the trees have more coming.

I’m linking up to Angela’s So Scrappy blog for Scrappy Saturday. We participants are sharing all of our yellow scrappy sewing for the month. This month concludes the color rotation for this year, although November and December are reserved for dark neutrals (black, gray, brown) and light neutrals (white, cream), if desired. Most of us will take the time over the next couple months to begin assembly of our rainbow blocks into quilts. If my calculations are correct, I have five rainbow quilts to assemble; Beachcomber, strings, selvage hexies, Windmills (Twin Sisters), and Scraptastic Stars. The Split Nines and International Sisters will carry over into 2021. 

I finished quilting and binding my quilt from yellow scraps and orphan blocks. Meet Creature from Bumblebee Acres! Thanks to Joy for the great name idea! This happy little creature quilt finished at 42x48.5”. It will go to Quilts for Kids. 


And speaking of Quilts for Kids, my friend Sandy who runs our local chapter says she’s overflowing with scraps. She’s sorting through them and texted me to come over in a few day to pick some up. I can hardly wait! All my little scrappy quilts go to QFK anyway, so it’s a win-win! Last Saturday we had a QFK scrappy workshop, but I didn’t feel comfortable enough (because of the pandemic) to stay and sew. However, I dropped off 10 quilts (three made and quilted by me and seven made by others and quilted/bound by me). I did stay long enough to learn the scrappy technique being taught, plus to pick up two kits to make a couple of those. And four quilts to be quilted.

Anyway, this new technique is something I want to share with you. Apparently, you begin with a nice repeating print, be it floral, or whatever. Then you cut 4.5” squares or whatever size you choose, depending on the size of the repeat (or portion thereof). Let me show you.


See the four sections of the four-patch above? They were cut from almost the same exact portion of the repeat, just at subsequent portions of the fabric. In the case of this print, there were several ways to lay it out, but the idea is to make it look kaleidoscope-ish. Or turn it into an interesting repeated pattern.


There is no right or wrong here - you just play with them until you get an effect you like. In the above block, I chose to put the main (visually-weighty) flowers out in the squares and bring a lesser grouping together at the center. I love those green swirls too. 


The blue flowers above all wanted to play together at the center. 

Once all the groups of four patches are sewn together, you add sashing and cornerstones, which we are asked by QFK to provide from our stashes. I also added an outer border because there was extra main fabric given to us for that purpose. I’ll admit that this squirrel bit me hard, and I couldn’t stop sewing until it was a flimsy! It measures 51x61”. 


If you click on the picture, you can enlarge it to see all the fun variations that this print provided.  I’ll probably set this one aside now for a few weeks before quilting it up, although I do plan to piece a backing for it this weekend.

Here is my usual collage of yellow RSC blocks made for October. There were 84 of them. (Not all are pictured).

I also finished up (quilting, binding), the second of four quilts that I’m making as Christmas gifts. This quilt was made from a panel and will be for my brother who is still crazy after all these years for old cars and trucks. 


As usual, my design board isn’t large enough, so the top part is pinned on and the bottom portion is hanging, which makes it look wonky. It isn’t. 

Mostly I quilted it in a simple stipple with black thread, but in the snowy parts I switched to white thread and just quilted lines or whatever I felt would work on the snow. This quilt finished at 56x65” before laundering. The backing is a tossed truck print with red, green and blue trucks that I’ve had for awhile and knew would be the perfect backing for a Christmas quilt for Steve. 


Now I’ve moved on to the third Christmas quilt. This next one will be for Bill, who is the husband of Paula (Tyrol quilt) and is my DIL’s dad. Bill likes to hunt, and they have a cabin up in the canyon not too far from Snowbird. When my DIL Kim saw these fabrics I’d pulled from my stash as a possibility, she said they were perfect for him. She also chose a simple rail pattern for the quilt.


This is how they’re looking together so far. I have sewn all 56 blocks, so the inner portion of the quilt will be set 7x8.  Then there will be a thin blue border (that solid blue) followed by an outer wide border of that navy medallion print. 


It should finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 78x88”. Since Bill is 6’4”, that’s a good size for a lap quilt.

But wait, there’s more! That’s all of my sewing for the week, but Cousin Kim finished up a baby quilt from a cute jelly roll of baby fabric I had sitting around.  Her son Nick has a friend who is having a baby, and this will go for him/her.


Click on the picture to enlarge it and see the cute prints with unicorns and swans. Kim did a super job and used just about every square inch of the jelly roll for the blocks, border and binding. She is the queen of frugal. This delightful quilt finished at 50.5 x 59.5”.  At Kim’s request, I quilted it with a simple loop design. 

So, do you remember that my plan was to shampoo the carpets of at least one room last week? Well .... it didn’t happen. But not for lack of trying. Oh no. It was a major cluster-foxtrot, if you know what I mean. I got the guest bedroom cleared and vacuumed. Then I got out the carpet cleaning appliance, the instructions (just to refresh my memory), and set to work. But nothing was happening. Everything seemed to run fine, but no water/soap was moving out or in. I checked the beater bar, the belt, cleaned all the parts, etc. Bruce even came and helped me disassemble some non-“user-serviceable” parts to check and clean. It just wouldn’t spray out the soap or suck it back up. We figured the pump must be kaput. After almost two wasted hours, I gave up. And I’ll have you know that I didn’t utter even one foul word through the entire process. So now I guess I’ll need to call in a professional to do it. Damn! (Oops!)

That’s it from here. Today, October 31, is also the anniversary of my mom’s passing (14 years), so she’ll be in my thoughts throughout the day. Tonight is trick-or-treating, but we’re turning off the lights and watching our usual movie, Young Frankenstein. We’ve already been around to the three neighborhood families of kids we love to deliver their treats to them in person.